Publisher Banks on Greenspan

Times Staff Writer

Irrational exuberance?

Not to Penguin Press, which said Tuesday that it won a bidding war to publish the memoirs of former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.

The deal reportedly will pay Greenspan an advance of more than $8.5 million, which would be the second-largest amount ever for a nonfiction writer.

The biggest was the $10 million Alfred A. Knopf paid in 2001 for the memoirs of former President Clinton.

Knopf and HarperCollins were competing for the Greenspan book; the deal was finalized at this week's London Book Fair.

Greenspan, who turned 80 this week, served as chairman of the Fed from October 1987 to his retirement at the end of January. Known for his cryptic, opaque comments about economic trends, Greenspan has pledged to write an accessible book for a general audience, Penguin Press representatives said.

Greenspan is expected to detail his years of service at the Federal Reserve as well as his thoughts about the nation's economic future, Penguin executives said.

The as-yet-unwritten manuscript will be produced with the help of another writer and published next year.

Penguin is expected to defray some of the cost by selling rights to foreign publishers.

Even then, Greenspan's book would need to sell hundreds of thousands of copies to break even.

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